(PresidentialWire.com)- Just as Vice President Kamala Harris was set to have a meeting with political leaders in Romania and Poland, news broke that the United States would not be meeting a major request from the Polish government.
Earlier this week, Poland sent a surprise request to the Biden administration, asking for 28 MiG-29 fighter planes to be sent to a U.S. military base in Germany for an eventual transfer to Ukraine. President Joe Biden rejected that request.
In explaining the decision, John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said Poland’s plan “raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”
Harris was scheduled to meet with both the Polish prime minister and its president, Andrzej Duda, on Thursday. Before she left for the trip, a senior official with the Biden administration explained the purpose of the trip:
“This trip to the eastern flank is further support to our allies and is also an extremely important opportunity to collaborate with them on next steps in responding to Russian aggression.”
The White House hasn’t provided any other insight into the discussion over the fighter jets. Many NATO countries have tried to avoid being seen as directly involved in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. While they have placed major economic sanctions on Russia, the U.S. hasn’t sent weapons or troops into Ukraine to this point.
Administration officials were asked directly whether Harris would discuss possible alternatives with the Polish leaders during her trip. They responded by saying the discussions would continue between the two countries’ leaders. One official commented:
“We have been in dialogue with the Poles for some time about how best to provide a variety of security assistance to Ukraine, and that’s a dialogue that absolutely will continue.”
This won’t be Harris’ first trip to meet with leaders of European nations. She recently met with some during the Munich Security Conference as Russia was still building up its forces on the border with Ukraine. Russia officially invaded its neighbor only a few days after she returned to the U.S.
A second administration official recently told The Washington Examiner:
“It’s not just extensive preparation for this particular trip, but the past couple of months have all been very much focused on what is tragically becoming a defining issue for the entire administration.”
Harris is being seen as a figure who can try to calm tensions between the U.S. and its allies. She did so last year when she met with French President Emmanuel Macron following a decision by Australia to strike a submarine deal with the U.S. rather than continue a long-standing agreement with France.
During her trip to Warsaw, the vice president is expected to hold meetings with Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada.
Following her stop in Poland, Harris is scheduled to go to Bucharest in Romania, where she will meet with its president, Klaus Iohannis.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have streamed over the border into Romania since the invasion began.